Seven women from the University of Manitoba's Faculty of Nursing volunteered for Habitat for Humanity Women Build to help the charity build homes in the Transcona area on July 21.
The builders are comprised of six support staff members and one faculty member. Some of the women were once single mothers who became skilled in home renovations, even, as Lisa Wolfe-Ulrich did, taking electrician courses. Others, like Lai Chun Yee, build furniture as a hobby.
Yee, the Faculty’s communications coordinator, has volunteered for the charity for six years, using a week of holiday’s to do so every year.
“It’s nice doing this rather than giving money to a charity and not know where it’s going,” she said.
Every year the Faculty hosts a retreat and the staff mull over outreach programs they can participate in. At this year’s retreat Yee mentioned Habitat for Humanity Women Build and the handful of handy-women signed up.
“I didn’t even think. I just said ‘Count me in’,” Wolfe-Ulrich said.
You may be familiar with Habitat for Humanity without the “Women Build” part. The Women Build program is an extension of the renowned charity; its focus is more on including women than it is about excluding men. The Women Build program has built 1,400 homes to date, with six in Winnipeg. This year the women are building on the site where Sir Sam Steel School once stood.
“This is the first time I’ve volunteered for anything and it seemed natural that I tried this because I like building things,” said Sandrine Zalewski, an information technologist who joined the University of Manitoba staff six months ago.
“This is a faculty where everyone is really tight and they do community outreach in a lot of ways – this is not the only place they help out, but of all the things they do, this one is what appealed to me the most.”